Human Rights Act and its role in protecting children and young people

A few weeks back we provided information about the Parliament of SA’s Social Development Committee’s Inquiry into the potential introduction of a Human Rights Act here in South Australia.

This is an exciting step for South Australia, and as you can appreciate the Guardian for Children and Young People, Shona Reid, has expressed her strong support for legislation to embed human rights into laws, policies and decision-making.

“Children and young people within my mandate are some of the most vulnerable to human rights violations in South Australia, I felt it was incumbent upon me to contribute to this Inquiry” Shona said

The Guardian’s submission highlights:

  • the limitations of current laws and mechanisms for protecting human rights in South Australia (specifically regarding children and young people in care and detention)
  • analysing the strengths of adopting a Human Rights Act in South Australia to better protect, respect and fulfil these rights
  • outlining essential features to embed within the model, including which rights should be incorporated.

In making these points, the Guardian does acknowledge that there have been some efforts in existing legislations in SA that contribute to protecting children and young people’s human rights, however, challenges whether these are enough or indeed adequate in providing the intended protections for the most vulnerable in our society.

“Sadly, I have observed a consistent and alarming lack of responsiveness in South Australia towards protecting, respecting, and fulfilling the human rights of children and young people in care and detention. Too often, discourse is based on the convenience and capabilities of government systems, rather than the needs and best interests of the children and young people at the centre of those discussions. Considerable work is required to refocus relevant laws and policies towards treating children and young people, first and foremost, as rights holders.” Shona said

The Guardian holds great optimism about the potential of a Human Rights Act in South Australia to supplement and advance our legislative framework for protecting, respecting, and fulfilling human rights (and indeed children and young people’s rights). As the Inquiry progresses, she looks forward to contributing to ongoing discussions about a model that meets the rights, needs and best interests of children and young people in care and detention.

To read the Guardian’s written submission to the into this Inquiry, please click here.

(c) 2021 Guardian for Children and Young People. Terms & Privacy Policy.

We acknowledge and respect Aboriginal People as the traditional owners
and custodians of the land we live and work on, their living culture and their unique role in the life of South Australia.